Bowling dry, Root’s struggles, Archer’s workload: Five talking points ahead of the second Test

England in New Zealand 2019/20

England will look to draw a line under a crushing defeat to New Zealand earlier this week and end their tour with a win in the second and final Test at Hamilton.

Some familiar failings surfaced as England were thrashed by an innings and 65 runs in the series opener at Mount Maunganui but the tourists have little time to lick their wounds.

Here, we take a look at some of the issues up for discussion.

New era, same mistakes

The Chris Silverwood-Joe Root axis commenced with a batting collapse, inertia with the Kookaburra ball on a flat surface followed by some injudicious strokes as they sought to save the Test on the last day. It is a pattern in many of England’s heavy overseas defeats. Clearly, change was not going to occur overnight but what was most disappointing was that head coach and captain had made batting time at the crease one of the fundamental principles in taking the side forward. It will be interesting to see how the batsman – and Root, in particular, after twice being dismissed in tame fashion – respond.

Does ‘bowling dry’ work?

Another concept laid out by Silverwood and Root was an instruction for the bowlers to dry up the runs if the pitch is lifeless and there is no movement through the air in an effort to exert pressure. Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer were terrific in sending down six successive maidens between them and conceding nine runs in 11 overs at the start of day four. However, neither was able to make the breakthrough and though both BJ Watling and Mitch Santner had a little luck, they were able to wait out England and ultimately take the Test away from them. Australia talisman Steve Smith did likewise in the 2017-18 Ashes. It may be time for England to review their bowling strategies.

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The Archer conundrum

The most exciting fast bowling prospect in England experienced a challenging first overseas Test, where he finished with one for 107 and, except for brief spurts, was largely down on the ferocious pace he exhibited during the World Cup and Ashes over the summer. Root urged Archer to “unleash a little bit more” immediately after the Test concluded but Ashley Giles, the men’s team’s managing director, astutely pointed out that the 24-year-old bowled 42 of the team’s 201 overs and that it would be unreasonable to expect him to bowl flat out all the time. Giles added: “Jof is gold for us and we have got to look after him.”


Increased security

Archer’s allegation that he heard “racial taunts” from “one guy” as he left the field after being dismissed in England’s second innings has sent shockwaves through New Zealand and cricket as a whole. Archer’s England team-mate Ben Stokes and Black Caps captain Kane Williamson have both labelled what happened as “horrific” while New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White travelled to Hamilton to issue an apology in person. The search for the offender continues but an apologetic home board has vowed to increase security at Seddon Park in an attempt to prevent a repeat occurrence.

Is the captaincy affecting Root’s batting?

Root’s lowly average of 27.4 from 10 Tests this year has seen him drop out of the top 10 in the International Cricket Council’s rankings. Despite an average of 39.7 in 34 Tests compared to 52.8 in 53 matches when he is not leading the side, the Yorkshireman is adamant he can juggle the demands of both. Silverwood believes he and assistant coaches Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood need to lessen the burden on Root in the build-up to Tests. However, England’s preparations for this Test have taken a setback with the news Silverwood will fly home after day two following a family bereavement, leaving Thorpe, Collingwood and Root to hold the fort for the rest of the tour.